NCAA Tournament: Kansas to Face No. 19 Nebraska
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas softball is making its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2006 when it faces No. 19 Nebraska at the Columbia Regional on Friday, May 16 at 12:30 p.m. at University Field. After the regional rematch with the Huskers, the Jayhawks will face either Bradley or Missouri in the double-elimination regional. Fans can listen to all the Regional action on Jayhawk Digital Passport and watch for free via the Mizzou Network through the Tigers’ website.
Joining the Jayhawks at the Columbia Regional are host Missouri (41-16, 15-9 SEC), Bradley (27-30, 15-12 Missouri Valley) and Nebraska (40-15, 18-5 Big Ten). It is the sixth-consecutive year that the Tigers have hosted a regional. The winner of the double-elimination regional will face the winner of the Tuscaloosa Regional in the Super Regionals, which will be held on a campus site May 23-25.
LEADING OFF FOR KANSAS
- The Jayhawks have won four of their last five games, including a series sweep over Big 12 foe Iowa State to close out the regular season.
- Kansas reached the 30-win plateau for the fourth-consecutive season under head coach Megan Smith after the 5-2 win at Texas on May 3. KU ended the regular season with a 33-21 mark and a fifth-place finish in the Big 12.
- The Jayhawks defeated then-No. 8 Kentucky 7-5 on March 23 and extended their streak of defeating at least one nationally-ranked opponent to five-consecutive seasons under Smith.
- KU has outscored opponents 239-149 after 54 games. Kansas has a 28-5 advantage when scoring first in the ballgame. The Jayhawks have outhit opponents in 34-of-54 games this season. Kansas owns a 30-5 record when out hitting its opponents.
- For four-straight weeks a Jayhawk was honored with Big 12 Player/Pitcher of the Week honors. Sophomore pitcher Kelsey Kessler, sophomore infielder Chaley Brickey, junior pitcher Alicia Pille and freshman catcher Harli Ridling all earned Big 12 weekly honors in 2014. Pille earned her second Big 12 weekly honor April 13, which is the fifth weekly honor in 2014 and the most in a single season for KU softball.
- Kansas had two earn All-Big 12 honors at the conclusion of the 2014 regular season. Sophomore Chaley Brickey was selected to the All-Big 12 Second Team, while junior Maddie Stein was named to the Big 12 All-Defensive Team.
- Five Jayhawks earned Academic All-Big 12 honors in 2014. Alex Jones earned her third first-team honor, while Maddie Stein earned her second first-team honor. Chanin Naudin earned academic honors from the Big 12 for the second-straight year. Alicia Pille and Nikki Bruce earned their first career Big 12 academic accolades.
SCOUTING THE HUSKERS
No. 19 Nebraska won a share of the Big Ten regular season championship after registering an 18-5 mark during league play and had six All-Big Ten selections at the conclusion of the conference season. Overall, the Huskers are 40-15 and ended Big Ten play sweeping Indiana in a three-game series. Nebraska fell to Ohio State, 7-5, in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament and earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The at-large bid marks the 18th NCAA appearance for the Huskers in the past 20 seasons. Nebraska has competed in a total of 22 NCAA Tournaments and has an overall record of 55-45 in postseason action.
Offensively, the Huskers are led by senior catcher Taylor Edwards, who is hitting .362 with seven doubles, 17 home runs for a slugging percentage of .718 and an on-base percentage of .512, both of which are team-highs. She also has collected the second-most RBIs on the squad with 41. Sophomore infielder Hailey Decker is batting .360 with a team-best 43 RBIs. Nebraska is hitting .301 as a team with 61 home runs. Four Husker starters are hitting .300 or above on the season.
In the circle, Nebraska is led by senior hurler Tatum Edwards, who has posted 195 strikeouts with 1.96 ERA. She has a 22-11 mark and tossed eight shutouts in 31 starts. Sophomore pitcher Emily Lockman has an 18-4 record in the circle with 102 strikeouts and a 2.09 ERA. The Huskers’ pitching staff has a 2.03 ERA and struck out 298 batters. Collectively, Nebraska’s pitching staff has recorded 17 shutouts.
KANSAS VS. NEBRASKA: THE SERIES
Friday afternoon’s rematch against the Cornhuskers marks the 104th meeting between the two programs. It is the second time in 2014 that Kansas faces Nebraska. Prior to the 2014 season, the two squads had not met on the diamond since Nebraska left the Big 12 for the Big Ten in 2011. The Huskers have a one-game lead in the all-time series, 52-51. The Jayhawks are looking to snap Nebraska’s five-game winning streak.
LAST TIME OUT
Nebraska edged Kansas, 1-0, in the first meeting between the two programs on March 15. The Jayhawks’ loss snapped an eight-game winning streak and a five-game streak of shutouts. The Huskers’ lone run in the second inning ended the pitching staffs scoreless streak at 34 innings. Kansas scattered three hits and had the tying run in scoring position in the seventh, but Nebraska halted the comeback and sealed the victory. Sophomore Kelsey Kessler went the distance throwing a complete game and struck out seven Huskers batters.
NCAA TOURNAMENT HISTORY
The Jayhawks have made 11 appearances in the NCAA Tournament, including a trip to the Women’s College World Series in 1992. KU’s first NCAA appearance was in 1983 and last was in 2006. From 1992-94, the Jayhawks made three-straight appearances in the field of 64 for the longest postseason streak in Kansas history. The Jayhawks hosted a regional in the 1992 and 1994 NCAA Tournament. Overall, Kansas is 14-20 in the NCAA Tournament.
During the 2014 regular season, Kansas played 12 opponents and 20 contests against programs that are appearing in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. The Jayhawks have a 7-13 mark against teams that are competing in this year’s NCAA Tournament. KU recorded impressive wins over No. 15 Kentucky, Texas, South Florida and UCF.
BRICKEY, STEIN EARN ALL-BIG 12 HONORS
Sophomore shortstop Chaley Brickey was selected to the All-Big 12 Second Team and junior first baseman Maddie Stein was named to the Big 12 All-Defensive Team. It marks the second-straight year that Brickey has garnered second-team accolades by the Big 12 and first all-defensive team selection for Stein, who also earned second-team honors in 2012.
Kansas’ defense set a program record after ending the regular season with a .979 fielding percentage, which is only 29 errors in 54 games. The previous record was .976 and was set during the 2013 season. Last season, the Jayhawks finished the year with the eighth-best fielding percentage and currently have the third-best fielding percentage in the nation prior to the postseason.
KANSAS VS. RANKED OPPONENTS
The Jayhawks faced four teams during the 2014 season that are currently ranked in USA Today/NFCA poll or the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll. Oklahoma is the highest nationally-ranked opponent that Kansas played and is No. 12 in the USA Today/NFCA Poll. KU is 1-8 on the year against opponents ranked in the top 25. Then-No. 8 Kentucky is the latest top-25 team to get upset by Kansas after a 7-5 victory on March 23.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
The Jayhawks played the first five weekends of the 2014 season away from Lawrence, competing in 24-straight games on the road before their home opener on March 11 against South Dakota State. Kansas is 23-17 on the road in 2014. Last year, Kansas was 12-7 in true road games and 25-8 away from Arrocha Ballpark during the non-conference slate.
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